“There was no room for Jesus in the Inn” (Luke 2:7).
These are chilling words. And you and I must admit that often they are true of us – especially at Christmas time. We know that the reason for the season is to celebrate Christ’s birth and we say that this is what we want to do. Yet, we get so busy with decorating (and fixing broken lights!), buying presents (and waiting in lines!), and going to parties (and getting stuck in traffic!) – and we add all these things to our normal schedules that are probably already too full!
There is no room for Jesus in our hearts when we’re rushing around, pushing to get more done, and trying so hard to make people happy. Just like the Innkeeper whose Inn was too full for Jesus so also our schedules may not leave time – unhurried time – to appreciate and enjoy Jesus.
This year, let’s welcome Christ’s Advent (his coming) and celebrate Christmas – before it’s passed us by!
Your First Love
Think back to when you were first in love… The two of you spent time alone together. Just to be with your beloved was exciting! You looked into each other’s eyes. Sometimes you had a lot to say and other times you both were quiet. It didn’t matter; you just wanted to enjoy one another’s company. Your beloved was important to you and so you set aside time to develop your relationship.
If Jesus is our Beloved then we’ll spend time being with him! We’ll take to heart his Word to us: “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10). We’ll enjoy being alone with him – at Christmas time and throughout the year.
Why are We Afraid of Quiet?
But many of us are scared to be alone with God. Being busy excites us! Accomplishing things helps us feel important. We think there are people who need us now and things that we have to get done ASAP. We may thrive on the adrenaline rush that comes with responding to the urgent.
And maybe we’re especially afraid of quiet. What do we do with silence? It feels unfocused and unproductive. It’s unfamiliar. In our culture we’re used to noise. In conversations we’re quick to interrupt a silent pause. When we’re driving alone in our cars we turn on the radio or play music on our iPods. In the evening we turn on the television or computer rather than relaxing quietly. Then in the morning we break the silence with an alarm or a radio blaring at us.
Why all this noise? What is it about being alone and quiet that scares us? We’re afraid to see inside our own souls and so we divert our attention away from what’s going on in our depths. Silence and solitude are like a can opener that opens up our soul, making us aware of any restlessness, unfulfilled longings, insecurities, loneliness, or sense of inadequacy.
And we’re afraid to let go. The sacred paths of silence and solitude with Jesus require that we release our reputation and “success” into the hands of the Lord.
Peace. Be Still!
When we step away from people and projects then we let go of managing things – and a lot of stress too! We’re practicing trust in God that he will direct things for his good purposes. Then, like the stormy seas we can respond to Jesus’ words, “Peace. Be still!” (Mark 4:39).
When we make room for Jesus, opening up our hearts to him, then we learn to enjoy his peace. The silent night is a holy night as we discover that “All is calm, all is bright, round yon virgin, mother and child.”
An Advent Prayer
Christ is knocking on the door of your heart to be with you – right now… Imagine him there waiting… Open the door… Embrace him… Talk to him about what you’re doing… Follow his lead…
You can try centering yourself in Christ’s presence with this simple Advent “Breath Prayer” I wrote: “Jesus, I open to you… in all I do.”
- Breathe in slow and deep as you whisper or think: “Jesus, I open to you…”
- Hold your breath and your sense of Christ’s Spirit…
- Exhale and submit all to Christ as you whisper: “in all I do.”
You may want to offer this prayer for a loved one in this way: “Jesus, may _____ open to you… In all he/she does.”
Soul Shepherding’s Advent Resources will prepare your heart for a fresh appreciation of the coming of Christ. Our booklet is for private devotions and small groups and include a passage of Scripture, picture, reflection, and Breath Prayer from the Bible. The prayer cards work great for facilitating conversation at a holiday gathering.